Super cookies can bake psychographic profiles

On May 2, six years to the day after Microsoft filed its application, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the company patent No. 7,039,699, “Tracking usage behaviour in computer systems.” Some wags dubbed the technology “super cookie.”

They call it that even though Microsoft limited the patent in some specific ways (probably to persuade the patent office to grant it). It flies in the face of IETF guidance on valid cookie use and provides information that is redundant with what Web companies can do already.

At first read, the patent does not offer much new, even if you take into account the 2000 filing date. You would learn much of what the patent describes in a Cookies 101 class.

To issue the patent, the USPTO had to have concluded the technology was new to a person skilled in the art of cookies in May 2000.

There is one puzzling restriction in the patent’s claims that might hold a clue as to why the USPTO reached that conclusion.

For example, the patent’s first claim is limited to the case in which there is a “first computer system having a first domain name and at least one other computer system having a second domain name that is different from said first domain name and wherein at least a portion of the first and second domain names are identical.” The other main claims have similar restrictions. Note the first claim does not say what part has to be identical; maybe it could be “.com,” in which case this would not be that much of a restriction.

The patent talks about all the marvy things that could be done with information from cookies, including targeted

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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